MEN BEHIND THE SUN
(Hei Tai Yang 71)
There are a certain sub-grouping of films that you can point to that take everything to extremes as graphically and brutally as possible works like Salo or 120 Days of Sodom (1975), Day of the Woman/I Spit on Your Grave (1978), Cannibal Holocaust (1979), NEKRomantik (1987) and A Serbian Film (2010). Men Behind the Sun belongs here. For a time, I thought maybe that it had been inspired by Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS (1974) and the cluster of sado-pornographic Nazi torture/concentration camp films that flourished for a time in the 1970s. On the other hand, it soon becomes apparent that T.F. Mous is making something far more sober and serious.
The film soon becomes a series of nastily uncomfortable torture scenes that are not for the faint-hearted. A woman is forced to stand outside in sub-zero temperatures for ten hours with her hands exposed, which are then plunged into boiling water and the skin stripped off. A man has his hands frozen at 100 degrees below zero and they are then shattered. Another man is placed inside a pressure chamber and we watch as his intestines splatter out of his anus and across the floor. The body of a nude boy is placed on an autopsy table and the organs are removed with no detail spared. The scene that caused the greatest controversy when the film came out is one where a cat is thrown into a room filled with rats, which proceed to tear it apart. The scene comes in such alarming detail that it makes you wonder about the whole no animals were harmed in the making of this production line, which clearly wasnt being enforced in Hong Kong during the 1980s.
The film never consists of too much more than a catalogue of these atrocities. It is grim but undeniably strong and effective viewing. Beyond the catalogue of cruelties, there is not much of a plot to proceedings but the film does climax in the inevitable overthrow of the camp. The one thing that does kill the film considerably is that all of the prints available are the ones that have been dubbed for American release in atrocious voices that seem conducted by inexpressive truck drivers and in no way suit the characters or events depicted on screen.
There were several sequels Men Behind the Sun 2/Maruta 2: Laboratory of the Devil (1992), Men Behind the Sun 3: A Narrow Escape (1994) and Men Behind the Sun 4/Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre (1995).
T.F. Mou made around a dozen films as director in a career that stretched between the 1970s and 90s. These range from action, crime and thrillers to erotica. In genre material, he made the Wu Xia A Deadly Secret (1980); contributed to the anthology Haunted Tales (1980); made Lost Souls (1980), another grim and extreme work about women who are people trafficked; and returned to direct the last sequel to Men Behind the Sun, the abovementioned Black Sun.
Trailer here (no subs):-
Full film available online here:-